Questions & Answers
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What advice would you give a young adult colon (bowel) cancer patient from the U.K. I feel very alone and scared. What resources and support are available?
Please know you are not alone. There are many online/virtual community forums that provide support and friendship to patients and their loved ones. In addition, many organizations offer individual services via telephone, FaceTime, Skype, etc. GCCA member organization Bowel Cancer UK is a great organization and we recommend you connect with them at www.bowelcanceruk.org. Their Never Too Young program is specifically designed for young adult colorectal (bowel) cancer patient and their families.
How can I find financial resources in the U.S. to help me cover my insurance co-pays, disability questions, and basic financial support while undergoing treatment?
Patient Assistance Programs support patients who may have difficulty paying for prescription treatments and medicines. Not-for-profit organizations, drug companies, and state governments provide discounts and/or free medications to patients who qualify. Be sure to check out your drugmaker's website for co-pay assistance. Additionally, check out these resources for more information: https://fightcolorectalcancer.org/living-with-colorectal-cancer/paying-for-treatment/ , www.allsup.com , www.cancercare.org/financial_assistance , and https://www.ccalliance.org/patient-family-support/financial-assistance-programs.
Does all biomarker testing require tissue or can NGS be done through blood?
Molecules used for biomarker testing may be obtained from blood, body fluids, or tissue. Your healthcare provider or genetic counselor will help you make an informed decision about which test is right for you.
Here is some information you may find useful from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN): Biomarker testing is at the center of personalized medicine. The word "biomarker" refers to any of your body's molecules that can be measured to assess your health. Molecules can be obtained from your blood, body fluids, or tissue. Biomarker testing is a group of tests that looks for these molecular signs of health so that doctors can plan the best care. Biomarker testing may also be called "molecular testing" or "genetic testing." The genome is made up of chromosomes. Chromosomes are long strands of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) that are tightly wrapped around proteins. DNA is a molecule that is shaped like a twisted ladder. Each step of the ladder is made of either one of two pairs of chemicals. Within the ladder are genes. Genes are instructions to make a product, usually protein. Cancer biomarkers include structural changes within the genome, abnormal features of gene products, or biochemical effects of the tumor.
Cancer biomarkers are used for many different aspects of cancer care. Some cancer biomarkers are used to assess a person's chances for developing cancer. Other cancer biomarkers are used for early detection (screening) and identification (diagnosis) of cancer. After a cancer diagnosis, biomarkers can be used to plan the best treatment. For example, biomarker testing is sometimes used to know if targeted therapy would treat cancer. Biomarkers may also be used to track treatment results or cancer growth if not on treatment. For some biomarker tests, you should first see a genetic counselor. Genetic counselors can give you information and guidance about testing so that you can make an informed decision. For more information: https://www.nccn.org/patients/resources/life_with_cancer/treatment/biomarker_testing.aspx or the GCCA's "Know Your Biomarker"
I feel that I need a colonoscopy as I have been having symptoms of colorectal cancer. My doctor doesn't think I need a test and won't submit it to my insurance to see if they will cover it. What should I do?
If you are experiencing symptoms of colorectal cancer, please express this both in person/telemedicine and in writing to your doctor and let him/her know the urgency of your request. Be very specific by creating a chart to track your daily symptoms. Also, be sure to let your physician know if you have any family members who have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer or other gastrointestinal issues (such as Crohn's, Colitis, IBD, changes to your bowel habits, severe cramping or blood in your stool, etc.)
If your doctor does not respond or is dismissive, ask for a referral or seek a second or third opinion. Being your own best health advocate is very important. Listen to your body and keep insisting on a colonoscopy. In the interim, a stool type blood test may provide additional information - these tests are affordable and include FIT or FOBT. For more information: www.GI.org/Guidelines